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Tandoori Chicken

RECIPE

This recipe for Tandoori Chicken comes from India and was commissioned to compliment the earlier published article entitled Indian Cooking . . . how did it become so popular?

Tandoori Chicken is a famous Indian and Pakistani dish in which chicken is marinated in yoghurt and spices and roasted. The name tandoori chicken has come from the traditional cylindrical earthen oven which is used to cook this dish. Tandoori chicken is a tandoor based starter originating in India.

The creator of the dish is Kundanlal Gujral, who was running a restaurant called Moti Mahal in Peshawar, Pakistan in the 1920s (at that time it was in undivided India). During partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, he was among those Hindu refugees who came to India, to escape rioting.

He opened a restaurant in Dariyaganj, Delhi. To attract customers he created a chicken dish which is cooked in a tandoor, an earthen oven in which temperatures go as high as 485°C. Before this the tandoor was only used for making naan bread, and soon tandoori chicken became one of the most popular Indian dishes all over the world. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, was among those who relished this dish and made it a compulsory item at all important occasions.

Tandoori Chicken

Ingredients for Tandoori Chicken

(see Hub-UK quantities and suggestions below)

1 chicken, cut into pieces (skinned and trimmed)
Kashmiri red chilli powder
2 cups of yoghurt
Lemon juice
Ginger and garlic (crushed)
Ground cumin
Coriander
White pepper
Black pepper
Cardamoms
Salt to taste
Cooking oil for brushing
Cucumber for garnishing
Red onion for garnishing
Tomato for garnishing
Lemon for garnishing

How to make Tandoori Chicken

  • Cut chicken into serving size pieces, skin it and trim all the visible fat. Prick the chicken using a fork or a knife to allow marinade to penetrate well into it.
  • Rub Kashmiri red chilli powder, lemon juice and salt onto the chicken pieces and keep it aside for half an hour.
  • In a bowl mix together the yoghurt (hang yoghurt in a muslin cloth to remove whey), lemon juice, ginger and garlic, salt, ground cumin, coriander, white pepper, black pepper and cardamoms. Add the chicken pieces and turn them several times to mix well. Keep in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight (do not leave it in the marinade for more than 2 days).
  • Remove the chicken from the fridge 2 hours before cooking it. This can then be grilled or roasted. If grilling on a charcoal tandoor, ensure the fire is really hot and when the coal has white ash on it add the grill to it at least 5 inches above the fire. Put oil on the grill with a brush and place the chicken pieces on it, continually basting with melted butter. Cover tandoor from upside and vent should be opened. Turn it 3-4 times and when meat is pierced to the bone the juice should run clear when it is ready.
  • If roasting, preheat oven to 230°C / 450°F / Gas 8, brush roasting rack with oil and place chicken on it. Cook for 25 - 30 minutes, turning twice. When you pierce the chicken to the bone the juice should run clear when it is ready. (Personally I would roast at a lower temperature and for a longer time.)
  • Serve with cucumber, red onion, tomatoes and lemon.

This dish is mostly eaten in restaurants as a starter dish. Left over marinade can be used to make tandoori chicken masala.

Serves 4

"Just a comment about the quantity of ingredients in this series of recipes, I would say that most people add in different amounts according to how they like it. Recipes are either normally passed on or people learn by experimenting with different amounts of spices until they get the taste they like, for example, I know I put different amounts of thngs into curries than my family and friends do, everyone does tend to work out how much they like."

Harpreet Virdee

Hub-UK quantities and suggestions for cooking Tandoori Chicken

Ingredients for Tandoori Chicken

4 skinless chicken breasts, eacj cut into four strips
4 heaped tsps Mild red chilli powder
4 heaped tbsps of yoghurt
Lemon juice (2 lemons - one for rubbing and one for marinade)
Ginger (about 1 inch cube finely grated)
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 heaped tsp ground Cumin
1 heaped tsp ground Coriander
1/2 level tsp White pepper
1/2 level tsp Black pepper
Seeds from 6 Cardamoms
1/2 level tsp Salt to taste
Cooking oil for frying

How to make Tandoori Chicken

Basically follow the instructions above. I cooked my Tandoori Chicken in two pans. Cook it in batches. I used a griddle pan to sear it and then transferred it to a non-stick pan for further cooking. Keep it warm in the oven until it is all cooked.

I used a mild chilli powder and the chicken was still quite hot so you may wish to use less if you do not like your food hot!

Chicken in Tandoori chicken marinade
Tandoori chicken ready to cook
Sear in griddle pan
Non-stick pan for further cooking

 

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